Major River Access Lawsuit in Colorado

A federal lawsuit pitting an angler against a landowner on the Arkansas River seeks to clarify Colorado’s murky laws governing public access to streams and rivers.

Colorado Springs fisherman Roger Hill has had repeated run-ins with Mark Warsewa, whose property spans the Arkansas River between Texas Creek and Cotopaxi. Hill likes to wade from public land nearby and fish in the river near Warsewa’s place.

“I own the bottom of the river,” said Warsewa, who bought the property in 2006.

Hill on Friday sued Warsewa in U.S. District Court, arguing the bottom of the river actually is public property. His lawyers point to a federal doctrine called “navigability for title,” which holds that if a waterway was used for commercial activity at the point of statehood, the state owns the stream bed and the public has access.

If Hill wins, the Arkansas River could be open for wade fishing through private land, and the standard could apply to just about every Colorado waterway. It also could resolve a thorny public-access issue that Colorado’s Western neighbors — New Mexico, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah — have cleared up in recent years.

LINK (via: Denver Post)

One thought on “Major River Access Lawsuit in Colorado

  1. The fight to get access is tough, but it’s worth it. Living in Utah, we’ve had multiple lawsuits regarding water access and the entire process is frustrating. Good luck, Roger. You know your rights, hopefully the state realizes that you’re correct and sides with you.

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